This afternoon sewing happened across a variety of experiences and with multiple mediums:
Children hand-sewed in their previously made clay tile slabs using embroidery thread and beads.
Across the room, hand and machine sewing was being used in art journals using mixed media ephemera.
Some children had the idea of adding sewing to their messages both by hand and with the sewing machine.
For messages, we once again made them for incoming children. Children worked extra hard to make these messages special such as thinking about interesting ways to combine materials or turn the message into a "gift" as Dagny called it. Will thought sewing on his message would make it special.
After completing messages for the new children, messages were also made for family and friends. Dagny said, as she finished sewing in her journal, "And maybe after someone else has a turn, (with the machine) I would like to sew a message for a friend." Cate wanted to make a message for her aunt who will be visiting, Will for his sister, and Lily for her brother. We don't want to ruin the surprise, but a certain Tucker room friend was also the focus during messages.
Revisiting sewing in a new context made it clear how confident the children have grown about sewing. For the most part they moved with ease through the required steps and suggested creative ways of using sewing in their work. Fine motor coordination and control were used with hand and machine sewing. Machine sewing also involved gross motor control in order to press the pedal at a consistent and appropriate speed. Using the machine also requires children to cognitively process several actions and decisions at once including eye-hand coordination to guide materials through the machine, adjusting speed, starting and stopping, moving one's hand with the materials as you sew, lifting the foot lever, turning the knob for the needle, etc.
While sewing in the clay tiles, children made observations that give insight to their decisions. Here's some of what was said:
Cate - "This looks like a bigger eye and a smaller eye."
Sam - "How did she make the eyes?"
Cate - "I cut them out."
Sam - "Oh, and look." (pointing to Caleb's) "Purple and blue look good together."
Sam - (While sewing and indicating where pieces of yarn crossed,) "It crossed over! I'm going to use all the holes."
Will added a new color and continued to follow his circle design he began previously.
Hugh added his favorite color: red.
Tommy and Hugh revisited their Main Street City book they had been working on earlier in the year. They brought in James and Will as contributing authors and illustrators to help with the story.
Q - What was added to Main Street City today?
Tommy - "A water page."
James - "There's a shark and a submarine and the guy is looking through the peep hole and the shark is going to bite the peep hole." (periscope)
Hugh - "There's an army submarine (pointing at the drawing). Here's compressed air...that helps it surface."
While working on this collaborative project which has included input from other children at various times, it is understanding the children may come across differences in opinion or forget where certain content came into play. At one such moment, children were expressing feelings about something that was added that they had not remembered as it seemed to conflict with the children's current understanding of the storyline. Will offered a solution while pointing to a blank page, "Just start on this page. What are you arguing about?" This seemed to shift the focus back to creating new content for the story. Encounters such as this one, give children experiences with multiple perspectives and social problem-solving.
Over lunch, a couple of children reflected on the art journal conferences we have been doing:
Dagny - "I liked doing my art journal conference. I liked it because I can hear what everyone else has done in their books and everyone gets to hear what I have done. Like with Grace, I never knew she made those other two things." (Grace's hand- and machine-sewn books.) "I just never knew it."
Cate - "I liked the conferences too. I like how we get to have clipboards."
We have observed excitement around the art journal conferences and a sense of seriousness about these meetings. Children who haven't had a conference yet have been asking when there's will be and children who have had a conference have been asking to go again, to listen to other conferences.
It reinforces to us the value in taking pause in order to reflect; how we gain from the time of reflecting together and also what message that sends to children around the value of their work.
We are looking forward to more conferences next week! What will we learn about ourselves and others?
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